Green Waste Disposal: What Happened Before Landfills?
At Waster – we are always trying to boost recycling for our customers and have green waste disposal – or at least waste disposal as kind for the environment as possible.
In recent years – landfills have got a very bad press. They are seen as the worst possible outcome for waste disposal – of course not counting illegal dumping.
With the current crisis in the Australian (and international) recycling markets caused by the increased Chinese regulations – we are looking at new and old options for green waste disposal.
How Waster.com.au helps small businesses
Waster is focused on boosting recycling and cutting waste costs for small and medium companies.
We provide all waste collection and recycling services such as green waste disposal on flexible 30 day agreements at at competitive prices.
You can arrange your services knowing there will be no hidden fees or lock in contract clauses.
You can click below to start arranging services today:
Green Waste Disposal – how did we cope without modern landfills?
The history of waste management can sometimes me more interesting than you expect – as we saw with early wheelie bins in the Roman era.
I was surprised to discover that landfills are a pretty modern idea – and were originally thought to be the height of clean technology.
At the beginning – in Victorian Britain – landfills were seen as a great way to fill disused quarries or unsightly holes in the ground.
Mike Webster of the environmental charity, Wastewatch says:
“Historically, municipal landfills were seen as a step forward; a form of landscape remediation whereby you have a hole in the ground created by from open cast mining or quarrying, you fill it up and you can build on it. Besides, before that people had been dumping their waste outside their houses, in streams, in rivers.”
At this time – resources were very scarce and hence valuable – and people made the most of what they had.
Dr Timothy Cooper from Exeter University writes that:
“For the first three-quarters of the 19th century, the recycling of waste products had been a fairly common activity. In many urban areas this discarded domestic refuse was collected by scavengers and dustmen and taken to dust-yards of the kind that inspired Dickens’s novel Our Mutual Friend.
There staff, usually women, were paid to rummage through the filth in search of reusable items such as brass, rags and waste paper.”
“And the bulk of everyday household waste not hurled into the nearest river or alleyway for scavenger recycling, was burnt in domestic grates – the vast quantities of ashes from which were also valuable to the appropriately named dustmen and women, as a core ingredient of bricks and as fertiliser – meaning that this, too, could be sold on.”
It was only towards the end of the 19th century – when people began to understand germs – but also started to fear unfounded concepts such as miasma from burning decaying matter – that landfills and council waste collection really took off.
Britain pioneered the development of landfills – and they were seen as great additions – to enable holes in the ground to be filled and reused for parkland or similar. The word “landfill” however was not used until after the second world war.
The post war period also saw a move to landfills as people became aware of the dangers of burning large amounts of waste near urban areas – for respiratory illnesses and others.
As the throw away and consumer cultures grew – landfills became completely accepted by the mid 1970s
As like many things we once thought were great – the side effects of landfills and the throw-away culture means that landfills can not be seen now as green waste disposal.
They will always have a place in a green waste disposal strategy alongside recycling, incineration etc.
The ability to create electricity at modern landfills from the greenhouse gases emitted is also a positive.
See a video below from an early rubbish tip in the UK that is c.100 years old.